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WANDSWORTH IN AGE-DISCRIMINATION CASE

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The filing of unfair dismissal cases against Wandsworth LBC by four school bus drivers (see LGCnet July 3) is exami...
The filing of unfair dismissal cases against Wandsworth LBC by four school bus drivers (see LGCnet July 3) is examined by The Guardian's law page (sect 2, p17).

George Gidella (65), Harry Wells (69), Clarence Headly (70) and Bill Harvey (67) are invoking European Community law in a bid to get round the fact that they cannot take their case to industrial tribunal because they are all over 65.

Whether the case goes ahead is likely to hinge on the decision of the employment appeal tribunal, which later this year will hear the case of the first British worker to succeed in an unfair dismissal claim over the age of 65.

James Nash, a warehouse manager who was sacked at the age of 69 by the Mash/Roe Group, won his case for unfair dismissal at an industrial tribunal last February. If the EAT upholds this decision they way will be opened for many similar cases.

The bus drivers took annual medical and driving tests and had been told in 1996 that their jobs were secure. George Gidella, a union shop steward, says: 'I believe I was dismissed for trade union activities, for challenging deductions from wages, and the others were simply retired to legitimise my unfair treatment.'

The council disputes this, insisting that the men were retired because of the council's official retirement age of 65. The council inherited the staff when it took over the bus contract from a private company, and a spokesman said the men, who were 'good, valued workers', were kept on until this year for operational reasons.

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